Opening up on Ashwin's exclusion from the playing XI in the ongoing series against England, former South African batsman Jonty Rhodes opined that it all boils down to the skipper and only 11 players can play. He also added that Virat Kohli juggles his bowlers really well as a captain.
India's premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was expected to play a key role in the ongoing Test series against England after his glittering performances in 2021. He had performed exceedingly well in the Tests Down Under, was excellent in the home series against England, and did fairly well in the WTC final as well. However, Virat Kohli and the Indian team management has opted for the 4:1 bowling combination in the first three Tests with Ashwin warming the bench and Ravindra Jadeja getting preferred, owing to his superior batting skills.
Talking about India's decision to exclude Ashwin from the playing XI in the first three Tests, Jonty Rhodes stated that a team can only play 11 players and the captain has to decide what combination maximizes the chances of taking 20 wickets.
"You can only play 11 players and it's up to the captain to decide because he leads on the field to really believe that this is the best 11 players that we have that will take 20 wickets in the game to win a Test match. That is your priority and maybe it is about an all-out seam attack. From that point of view yes Ashwin has incredible figures, and I don't think his Test career is over, that's for sure," Rhodes told TOI.
He also stated that someone has got to miss out from the XI if the balance of the side demands so.
"But right now, what Kohli is facing, with his team in England, maybe he just doesn't see that as the correct balance in the starting 11. There are only 11 places, someone's got to sit out.
India's pace bowling has been a revelation in the last few years. They had put up a great show at Lord's as well to skittle out the hosts within 60 overs. Rhodes reckoned that the Indian fast bowlers have shown a lot of intensity and Kohli has also used them really well.
"To say this is the best attack ever, I'm not going to judge that. The performances will speak for themselves and over a period of time. I just love the fact that it started two or three years back, and what you see is an intense barrage of fast bowling and you're under pressure the whole time as the opposition batter. It's something that Kohli has certainly used really well. He juggles his bowlers well."
The 52-year-old further lauded Jasprit Bumrah's versatility across formats and termed India's bowling 'well-balanced'.
"Look at Bumrah. He is an incredible bowler. We all have seen his skills as a T20 player and we may be taking him for granted, because of a slightly awkward action and he doesn't swing the ball away. (But) He's also such an effective Test bowler in all conditions. Yes, it's a well-balanced seam attack. The best ever? I don't know."